The WBO stripped pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather of his welterweight world title on Monday for his failure to comply with the organization's rules.
Mayweather claimed the WBO welterweight title when he outpointed Manny Pacquiao on May 2 in a 147-pound unification fight that shattered all financial records for a boxing match, including total gross, pay-per-view subscriptions, closed circuit revenue, live gate, foreign television sales and sponsorships.
Mayweather, who holds two other alphabet welterweight world titles, missed the 4:30 p.m. ET Friday deadline by which he had to pay a $200,000 sanctioning fee from the May 2 fight (for which he earned more than $220 million) and vacate the two junior middleweight titles he also holds.
"The WBO world championship committee is allowed no other alternative but to cease to recognize Mr. Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the WBO welterweight champion of the world and vacate his title for failing to comply with our WBO regulations of world championship contests," the WBO wrote Monday in its resolution.
It is against sanctioning organization rules for boxers to hold world titles in multiple weight classes. The WBC and WBA had been breaking their own rules by allowing Mayweather to hold their titles, but the WBO upheld its rules.
Typically, the WBO will allow a fighter 10 days to decide which weight class he wants to continue to hold the title in if he wins titles in multiple weight divisions. The WBO gave Mayweather two months to decide.
Once the Friday deadline expired, the WBO sent the issue to its championship committee, which voted Monday afternoon to strip Mayweather of the belt for not complying with either request.
"The WBO has the utmost respect for Floyd Mayweather Jr. and all that he has accomplished during his storied career," the WBO wrote in its resolution. "Mr. Mayweather has always agreed with and understood that world championships have both privileges and responsibilities and that status as WBO champion is subject to and conditioned on compliance with the WBO rules and regulations."
The Mayweather camp was displeased by the ruling.
"It's a complete disgrace," Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe told ESPN.com. "Floyd will decide what, or if any, actions he will take. But in the meantime he's enjoying a couple of hundred million he made from his last outing and this has zero impact on anything he does.
"Floyd Mayweather has a great deal of respect for each and every organization, as he has always had in his 19-year career, but he will not be dictated to by any organization or person as it relates to his decision making."
After Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs) defeated Pacquiao to unify three of the four major welterweight world titles, he spoke at length at the postfight news conference about how he planned to vacate all his titles in order to give younger fighters the chance to realize their dreams of winning belts.
"I don't know if it will be Monday [May 4] or maybe a couple weeks," Mayweather said in the news conference. "I'll talk to my team and see what we need to do. Other fighters need a chance. Give other fighters a chance. I'm not greedy. I'm a world champion in two different weight classes. It's time to let other fighters fight for the belt."
After Mayweather's pronouncement, the WBO sanctioned the June 27 fight between former titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr. and junior welterweight titlist Jessie Vargas for its vacant welterweight title. When Mayweather heard, he objected to the WBO in a letter from his lawyer, John Hornewer, on May 20. The WBO then laid out to Mayweather what he needed to do to keep the title, namely pay the fee and vacate the junior middleweight belts.
The WBO also reclassified the Bradley-Vargas bout for the interim title. With the WBO withdrawing recognition of Mayweather as its welterweight titleholder, it soon will formally elevate Bradley, who won a unanimous decision against Vargas, to full titleholder.
"I'm not surprised at all because of the individuals involved we're talking about," said Ellerbe, believing that WBO president Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel went out of his way to help Top Rank's Bob Arum, who promotes Bradley and Vargas and who is close to the WBO.
Mayweather has 14 days to file a written appeal with the WBO, but the decision is unlikely to be changed, even if he does appeal.Ellerbe said Mayweather has not decided yet if he plans to appeal.
"We have the best attorney in the game, John Hornewer, and we are fully aware of what our rights are," Ellerbe said. "Floyd will decide what he wants to do."
Mayweather has won 11 world titles in five weight classes, from 130 to 154 pounds, during his brilliant 19-year career. He plans to next fight Sept. 12 -- the opponent has not been announced -- to complete his six-fight contract with Showtime/CBS. The 38-year-old has said that he plans to retire after that.